But Rina "had to know," says Mario. "It was never said, because we didn't want to put her in the position of being in the middle."
"I know they race—pretty soon it is in the newspaper," recalls Nonna Rina. "My husband doesn't know. I was afraid that he'd be upset. But I thought children should be able to choose what they do."
On Sundays, when Gigi would drive Rina into Nazareth, she would make up excuses to have him take a route other than the road by Nazareth Speedway. "Because I knew they were announcing over the microphone the name Andretti pretty often," she says, "and I was afraid Gigi would hear."
Then Aldo crashed.
Of the wild-driving Andretti twins, Aldo was the wilder, the more daring, the one "with a little less brains," he says now. He might have been greater than Mario on the Grand Prix tour, at Indy, at Daytona—might have thrilled the world more.
The '59 season-ending race at Hatfield, Pa., would pay the winner $1,500. Both brothers went after the prize. Aldo drove their own car, and Mario secured a ride in another. To make the big race, each Andretti had to qualify in a separate heat. Mario made it through the first heat. The second featured more local hot dogs, and Aldo had a fight on his hands going in.
"I was running third, well enough to make the feature, but I didn't know it, because the two leaders were just gone," Aldo says. "I was driving way over my head. I remember Mario standing out by the track, waving, trying to slow me down. Then I hooked the fence."
End over end the Hudson Hornet flew, disintegrating, forever separating the paths of the twins.
Mario stalled for time, phoned his mother and said, "Aldo was watching me race. He was standing on top of a truck. He fell off and got the wind knocked out of him."
In fact, says Nonna Rina, "Aldo was in a coma."